Can We Measure Correlates of Neuronal Activity with Non-Invasive Optical Methods?

  • Gabriele Gratton
  • Monica Fabiani
  • Paul M. Corballis
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 413)


Light in the near-infrared range is only moderately absorbed by water, hemoglobin, and other significant body substances (Wilson, Patterson & Flock, 1987) and therefore penetrates several centimeters inside the head and other body structures. Thus, near-infrared light can be used to study absorption and scattering properties of living tissues. This includes non-invasive, quantitative spectroscopic measurements of the concentration of substances with characteristic absorption spectra in the near-infrared range (such as oxy-and deoxy-hemoglobin) (Chance, 1989). Changes in the scattering properties of the tissue, such as those related to variations in the concentration of glucose, or to other physiological events could also be measured. Near-infrared optical measurements can be taken repeatedly and rapidly, which makes the study of the dynamics of physiological phenomena possible. Since measurements can be taken from circumscribed areas of the brain, it is possible to conduct functional brain imaging studies (see Tamura, this volume).


Primary Visual Cortex Occipital Area Recording Instrument Calcarine Fissure Functional Brain Imaging Study 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gabriele Gratton
    • 1
  • Monica Fabiani
    • 2
  • Paul M. Corballis
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyColumbia UniversityNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.New York State Psychiatric InstituteNew YorkUSA

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